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Farmers market report: Winter Bloomsdale spinach gives you a sweet reason to eat your greens

Farmers market report: Winter Bloomsdale spinach gives you a sweet reason to eat your greens
Bloomsdale spinach for sale from the Weiser Family Farms stand at the Santa Monica farmers market on Oct. 17, 2018. (Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times)

If you’ve passed by Weiser Family Farms market stand over the last few weeks, you’ve no doubt spotted mounds of fresh spinach along with the turnips, radishes and potatoes for sale. Or perhaps you’ve seen those mounds disappearing.

It’s the season for Bloomsdale spinach, a unique variety dating to the 1800s and known for its Kelly green color and frilly (savoyed) leaves. A favorite of chefs and market customers alike, Weiser’s spinach has turned up on menus around town including Jon & Vinny’s in the Fairfax District, Gjelena in Venice and Botanica in Silver Lake.

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“It’s thicker and juicier than other varieties,” says Alex Weiser. It’s noticeably sweeter too.

While you can plant Bloomsdale year-round, Weiser considers it more of a winter crop, and refers to it as Winter Bloomsdale. “There’s only a short window to plant it in the spring because it bolts [the plant flowers and grows spindly, taking on a bitter flavor],” says Weiser.

Bloomsdale is excellent raw in salads, the sweet spinach working well with citrus, persimmons and other fall and winter fruits coming into season now.

If you plan to cook it, figure on buying at least one-half pound per person. As with other spinach varieties, even a large bunch will wilt down to almost nothing after a few minutes over the stove. I enjoy Bloomsdale most when its flavor is allowed to shine, and prefer cooking it simply in oil with a clove of garlic or two, or perhaps a quick shaving of nutmeg. It’s also great tossed with a little browned butter.

Weiser will have spinach through the start of spring. You can find Weiser Family Farms at farmers markets in Santa Monica (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday), Hollywood, Venice, Pasadena, Long Beach, Beverly Hills, Claremont and Mar Vista.

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